The New Nicotine Alliance is a charity dedicated to representing the voice of nicotine users, including vapers, snus and heat-not-burn product users. The board of the NNA donate their time and services for free, relying on public donations to fund activities, and the NNA does not take funding from vape or tobacco companies.
The NNA has contributed in the last two years to improving individual, organisational and public understanding of what is known as ‘tobacco harm reduction’ - a term used by the Department of Health, Public Health England and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence amongst others to describe ways of reducing harm from cigarette smoking without necessarily giving up the use of nicotine.
Seeing an opportunity to expand engagement, the NNA has recently announced that it intends to conduct ongoing webcasts on Zoom – the first of which, last week, had Clive speaking under the heading of “TPD Review: Opportunity or Catastrophe?”
Clive bates is well known to vape advocates for his open, honest, and informed opinions about tobacco harm reduction. He began work IBM before switching to the environmental movement. Then he became the Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH UK) prior to joining Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit as a civil servant and worked in senior roles in the public sector and for the United Nations in Sudan. He now runs Counterfactual, a consulting and advocacy practice focussed on a pragmatic approach to sustainability and public health.
Clive began by reminding everybody that the big battle over the 2014 TPD took place in 2013 resulted in an epic victory for harm reduction and vapers.
The TPD is the result of agreements amongst institutions and governments to regulate tobacco products in a particular way. It harmonises standards of products in theory to allow the internal market to function properly. It can’t do things such as change age restrictions or ban vaping in public space as these types of things are left to individual states.
The 2014 TPD, article 28, provided provision for a review, to be completed by May 2021. The headline target was a 2% reduction in smoking by 2021 – “something they won’t even be able to measure, but they won’t be deterred by that,” said Clive. “They will look for gaps, problems or changes to the operating environment.”
According to Clive, the current review is, “all threat, all downside.” He feels that particularly at risk are flavours, products requiring authorisation, the creation of blacklists and white lists for the contents of eliquid, and the potential for burdens to be applied to small businesses, along with a threat to open systems. “They’ve picked up the ‘garbage’ from the states; Evali, flavours, teens.”
He urged vapers to get involved: “You should not underestimate the power and agency - You can win big in the parliament.”
The 2014 TPD was set to class vape products as medical products until a concerted campaign got underway where vapers contacted MPs, MEPs, governments and scientists across Europe. Bates believes this consumer action can help to influence the next TPD iteration.
Clive warned against complacency in the UK. Although we are now out of the room for discussions, and some believe the government can make its own laws about nicotine products, Bates suspects they won’t. The EU, he stated, is a legislative superpower and therefore influences how other nations treat tobacco harm reduction.
He feels it is vital for vapers to support the efforts of the NNA and respond to future calls to action. You can join the NNA as a supporter for free, make donations, and contribute to its fighting funds every time you shop with Amazon.